By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief – Nairobi, Sunday August 12, 2018
When Kenya’s National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi was elected President of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) last March, he gave a speech that would have made many people think he presides over a House of Angels in Kenya.
Muturi cannot wish away the despicable corruption spectacle in his Parliament last week. It is a monumental disgrace coming a week after Parliamentarians united in tongue-lashing People Daily for publishing a story that described Parliament as a Haven of Corruption. By accepting as low as Ksh 10,000 to shoot down a Parliamentary Report it was clear evidence how low the so-called Honourable Members have sank. Rarely are grown ups so cheap.
Unless the corrupt Members of Parliament are punished adequately by being subjected to the same laws they legislate to punish corruption, the ongoing fight against graft will be seriously undermined. Kenya citizens and the world at large will consider the exercise a futile and selective hoodwink. The MPs must drink from the same cup they want others to drink from. After all what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander, there should be no sacred cows.
Kenya Members of Parliament are among the world’s best-enumerated public officers. They are by any measure millionaires the moment they are elected with instant package of millions in a posh home, car loan, medical cover insurance, huge allowances including a sitting allowance as an inducement to go and sit at their work place – unlike any other category of public officers. Their shocking behaviour last week set no enviable record as the cheapest of the cheap politicians that ever roamed the African continent.
In his acceptance speech read by Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabir, Muturi said he will work on three key issues to ensure (repeat ensure) a corruption-free Africa during his tenure (repeat a Corruption-free Africa during his tenure).
“The incoming President wants to draw the attention of member states to people. In this regard, he suggests focus on people – to strive not only for peace and decent life for all on a sustainable planet but also a continent free of corruption,” Shabir said. The Speaker should have reflected upon his Parliament eye’s log before looking at the speck on the African continent’s eye.
Muturi also claimed he would also seek to improve the detection, exposure and prevention of corruption across the continent by fostering strong parliamentary oversight on the vice. He should now expose his own Parliament to detection, exposure to Members of Parliament as proof that he will formulate measures that work for prevention of corruption in future. After all charity begins at home.
Unless firm action is taken against the shameful display of greed by his parliamentary Members stooping so low as to take Ksh 10,000 bribes to shoot the contaminated sugar report down last week, it will now expose Muturi for what he is – a sly, cunning and ingenious day-dreamer totally incompetent and incapable of fighting corruption in a Parliament he presides over.
The Speaker noted that a graft-free Africa would play a great role in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. That explains why Kenya lags behind in achieving the United Nations sustainable development goals because its overpaid Members of Parliament are too busy furthering their self-aggrandizement dream than using Constituency Development Fund and taxpayer;s money in providing social amenities such as schools, health centres and roads.
Kenya politicians led by Members of Parliament are a rare breed of selfish class. They believe in lining up their pockets as their fellow citizens languish in poverty then run around telling them the government is marginalizing their part of the country – while they themselves wallow in opulence. They successfully taught Kenyans that they had better consume all government revenue on salaries than on national development projects triggering a clamour for higher salaries by all public servants.
interestingly, Muturi had expressed similar sentiments about development goals two years earlier in 2016 during the African Annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Balaclava, Mauritius where poverty and corruption were cited as threats to development in Africa. Muturi, who spoke after the opening remarks by Mauritius Prime Minister Sir Arenood Jugnauth, said that Parliament’s role in achieving and realising sustainable development goals cannot be overlooked.
“These development goals sit in very well with our parliament given our many committees and the constitutional requirement for public participation in our work,” Muturi said. Obviously the Speaker was paying lip service to a subject that means nothing to him in real life but portrays him as a pan-Africanist of concern.
According to Muturi, “The next priority was networking with the Member of CPA, African Union, Pan African Parliament, Inter-parliamentary Union and his fellow Speakers in African Parliaments to strengthen APNAC as a caucus.” That is a matter that should get out of Muturi’s mind completely. There are decent African politicians out there who will henceforth treat Kenya parliamentarians like lepers.
Muturi said he would also work on strengthening the APNAC Secretariat by lobbying for allocation of adequate funds by Parliaments for the support of programmes. Five months later, the secretariat cannot put its hands on a single piece of paper from Muturi on that issue.
Then incoming President was to seek donor support and partnerships to ensure availability of adequate funds to undertake APNAC activities. Few or no donors would like to work with someone who cannot reign his own flock or irredeemably corrupt MPs.
APNAC was born out of the Regional Seminar on Parliament and Good Governance held in Kampala, Uganda, in early February 1999. The theme was ‘Towards a New Agenda for Controlling Corruption in Africa’.
The Kenya chapter was initiated in February 2001 through the efforts of former Webuye MP Musikari Kombo. Kombo was by then the Chairman of the Parliamentary Anti-Corruption Select Committee that was created in 1998 to study corruption and its effects in Kenya. The Select Committee produced a report popularly referred to as the Kombo Report and which contained the infamous ‘List of Shame’.
Today it provides a suitable platform for Kenya Parliamentarians to earn allowances globe-trotting heavily laden in deceitful missions for financial gain. Regionally, parliamentarians came up with several objectives to tackle corruption in Africa. They include building Parliaments’ commitment and capacity to play an accountability role, particularly pertaining to matters of government spending, and sharing information on lessons learnt and best practices.
Other objectives are undertaking projects to curb corruption, cooperating with civil society organisations with shared objectives, formulating strategies for fighting corruption and networking by APNAC Chapters. Muturi has turned many requests from Citizens Against Corruption to collaborate with Parliament on Anti-Corruption Awareness because as it appears now it has never been his intention to curb corruption where he can.
The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Vera Songwe, said on January 25 that Africa loses $148 billion a year to corruption. The figure represents a quarter of the continent’s combined average GDP.
Should Muturi show any signs of protecting the corrupt MPs who were distributing bribes or those taking 10k last week, he can be sure he will fall out of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s favour. Uhuru admits he is losing friends in the ongoing corruption purge – that Muturi can take to the Bank.
Muturi has called for an investigation into last week’s episode but such investigations should go deeper to establish the level of corruption during the vetting of Cabinet Secretaries and other constitutional appointments. He last February rigged in Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko by hiding a Petition I had sent that would have knocked him out – a fact he did not deny when I put it to him.
The Speaker as National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai hid a Petition I submitted on February 7th, which was the deadline for petitions to be submitted. It is not possible to hide documents in order to protect anyone for free in Kenya.The Clerk’s letter dated February 6th was done a day before the deadline and the one I submitted on 7th hidden. If that is not Corruption, then corruption has a new definition in Kenya’s Parliament.
The Clerk’s secretary declined to stamp receipt with very revealing comment. “Tukistamp mnatushtaki kortini” (when we stamp documents, you can take us to court). That means the Speaker and Clerk have instructed secretaries to subvert justice should they be sued. I have requested the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to investigate the matter – especially document registration and safe-keeping procedure at Parliament.
Uhuru will not relax his determination in the war on corruption and he has said even if it is his own blood brother caught, he will carry his own cross. Muturi is not even a distant relative and must avoid a situation like the one that led to his departure from Judiciary where he was a Magistrate – over a tale of a million shillings.